FAQ: Accommodations

This section is designed to provide basic information and address some common questions. Please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Nelson, Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support, with other questions, concerns, or feedback.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

In the college setting, reasonable accommodations are designed to “level the playing field” for students with disabilities by reducing or eliminating barriers related to a disability and resulting limitations. Accommodations may consist of modifications or adjustments to a course, program, or activity to ensure equal access. The request and review process is designed to ensure that accommodations do not fundamentally alter the nature of a course or program or provide an unfair advantage (American Psychological Association).

How are accommodations approved?

Students must make all accommodation requests through the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support and follow a set procedure. Students meet with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support to discuss their disability, the impact in and outside of the classroom, past use of accommodations, and current accommodation requests and needs. Information provided by the student is reviewed in conjunction with disability-related documentation and requests are considered in the context of what is reasonable based on the essential program or course requirements. All accommodation requests are reviewed on an individual and case-by-case basis. Some accommodations may be approved on a provisional or semester basis when more information is needed or if a disability is temporary or may change over time.

The procedure for requesting services and information on documentation guidelines can be found on our website.

How are faculty notified about approved accommodations?

Faculty will receive a Letter of Accommodations by email with the student copied. The letter will verify that the student is registered with the Office of Accessible Education and outline accommodations for which they are approved. Accommodations may be approved at any point in the semester, however they are not retroactive.

What if I believe an approved accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of my course?

Please contact Abigail Nelson directly if you have concerns about an accommodation. Great care will be taken to ensure accommodations do not fundamentally alter the essential requirements of a course and that students with disabilities are held to the same learning objectives as students without disabilities. In some instances, Accessible Education staff may need to collaborate with faculty to ensure these standards are being met.

What if a student requests an accommodation that is not listed on their Letter of Accommodations?

If this occurs, you are not obligated to provide the unapproved accommodation. Please direct the student to follow-up with the Office of Accessible Education in this instance.

What should I do if I am concerned about a student and suspect they may have a disability?

As you would with any student who is struggling, explore with the student if there are any ways or resources that may help to support them. A student may disclose a disability to you, in which case it would be appropriate to encourage them to access services through the Office of Accessible Education. Legally, you cannot ask a student if they have a disability. However, you may explore available support options including Accessible Education, Writing at Bates, tutoring, and Health Services, for example, as you would with any student.